• Kyodo


Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday it has received a letter from CVC Capital Partners saying the British private equity firm will suspend its consideration of a buyout offer.

CVC's move is seen as a de facto withdrawal from its plan to acquire Toshiba and take it private following an abrupt leadership change at the Japanese industrial conglomerate, according to sources familiar with the matter.

CVC had expected to submit a detailed proposal but Toshiba said it received the letter on Monday that contained "no specific and detailed information capable of detailed evaluation."

Toshiba quoted CVC as saying it will "step aside to await your guidance as to whether a privatization of Toshiba will suit management's and the board of directors' strategic objectives."

The development would cap weeks of turmoil sparked by CVC's proposal on April 6 that put the spotlight on Toshiba, a household name that has spent years trying to restore investor confidence and improve governance following an accounting scandal in 2015.

The buyout proposal, likely worth over ¥2 trillion, came only months after Toshiba returned to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January, prompting some market analysts to question whether it is the right course of action to go private.

"We currently believe that being a publicly traded company provides a stable equity structure suitable for enhancing long-term value creation, and by taking advantage of the listed status it will lead to corporate value enhancement," Toshiba said in a statement.

The abrupt departure of President and CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani last Wednesday apparently prompted CVC to rework its buyout proposal that assumed he would remain at the helm.

The proposal had met opposition from some of the Toshiba board who viewed it as an attempt by Kurumatani, who once served as chairman of CVC's Japanese unit, to defend himself and protect the conglomerate from activist shareholders dissatisfied with him.

Kurumatani faced falling support from shareholders that raised uncertainty over his reappointment.

"While CVC contends that our shareholder structure has adversely affected our corporate value, the board does not believe this to be the case," Toshiba said in the statement, adding it is "proud" of the hard work that paved the way for its return to the TSE's first section.

Media reports have said potential bidders for Toshiba include U.S. global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., although sources close to Toshiba said no contact has been made.

Toshiba has become leaner after sweeping restructuring in the aftermath of the accounting scandal and 2017 bankruptcy of its U.S. nuclear plant unit. Toshiba spun off its semiconductor business, now run by Kioxia Holdings Corp., and it has a stake in the chipmaker.

Financially struggling Toshiba raised about ¥600 billion in 2017 by issuing new shares to avoid getting delisted, and accepted investments from activist shareholders.

The potential purchase of Toshiba, whose business portfolio includes nuclear power and defense equipment, needs to pass screening by the Japanese government for national security reasons.

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